Teachers Evenly Split on Common Core, But Parents Turn Sour


A new Gallup poll shows that American teachers are divided on their views concerning the Common Core standards, with 44% seeing them as negative and 41% looking at them positively.

While parents are also divided on the issue, their views have become increasingly negative over the past few months.

The standards are benchmarks for what students should learn by the end of each grade level, adopted in 43 states, in the hopes of improving education by demanding more of students.  However, the standards have been met with controversy as many believe they are asking too much of students, promoting the use of too many high-stakes tests, introducing weak curricula and taking away local control of schools.

According to the poll, teachers who are in states that have fully implemented the standards are more positive about their use than teachers in states that are still in the process.  In the fully implemented states, 61% of teachers reported positive feelings compared to 37% of teachers in states still implementing the standards.

Interestingly, the poll discovered that elementary school teachers were most likely to view the standards positively, with 43% holding a generous view.  Middle school teachers were slightly less likely to hold that view (with a net -4), and high school students even less likely (with a net -11).

Teachers also reported a split view of the standards among their peers as well, with 56% reporting a “mixed” reaction among their co-workers to the standards.

“The findings suggest some teachers may be experiencing a stressful work environment as they start the 2014-2015 school year — especially if staff members within their own schools are at odds over the Common Core,” the Gallup report said.

When asked what they believe to be the most positive aspect of the standards, 56% of teachers reported having a unified set of standards throughout the US.  The next most popular suggestion, mentioned by 12% of teachers, was that the standards instill quality critical thinking skills.

Views on the most negative aspect were more sporadic.  The top two statements were that the standards are not practical (15%) and that they are not implemented well (14%).

Among parents, 35% hold a negative view, while 33% look at the standards positively.  This is an increase in negative thinking since April, when 35% viewed them positively and 28% held a negative view.

“The data suggest that this increase in awareness has led to an increase in negativity, given the seven-percentage-point increase in those viewing the standards negatively and the two-point decrease in those viewing them positively,” the poll report said.

Despite this, 65% of parents still would like to see the standards used in schools, are happy with the standardized testing, and approve of using student scores on those exams in teacher evaluations.

For parents and teachers surveyed, Democrats were more likely to support the use of the standards than Republicans.

The online Gallup poll surveyed 854 public school teachers across the country and a random sampling of 532 public school parents.